New Delhi: India has stepped up efforts to position itself as an adventure tourism destination and is offering travellers a bouquet of experiences – from mountaineering to camping, rock climbing and river rafting.
Tourism ministry officials said that as mountaineering attracts a large number of foreign travellers, the ministry is working with the Indian Mountaineering Federation (IMF) and Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI) to promote the sector.
“To enhance the quality of adventure tourism experience in the country, we have also given in principle approval to the IMF to organise training programmes for adventure and mountain guides,” a ministry official said.
The government had last year given security clearance for opening 104 additional peaks in Jammu and Kashmir area. Scaling these peaks that falls mostly in the Leh and Ladakh region, along India’s border with China and Pakistan, were difficult as it needed various clearances.
“The opening of the additional peaks helped in positioning the Indian Himalayas as an adventure tourism destination,” the official added.
The ministry has also taken the issue regarding the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) and satellite phones by tour operators with the home ministry.
The aim to provide with these gadgets is to ensure international safety standards.
The ministry has sanctioned Rs.3.61 crore for the development of camping sites at Surajkund near New Delhi and Rs.3.20 crore at Dharuhera in Harayana.
“The camping huts were erected with state-of-the-art technology. The aim is to give a different experience to the discerning travellers,” the official said.
The ministry has already issued basic minimum standards for adventure tourism activities including hand gliding, para-gliding, bungee jumping and river rafting.
Financial assistance is provided to various states for development of tourism infrastructure to develop and maintain facilities for trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, aero-sports, winter and water related sports, trekker huts and wildlife viewing facilities.
Over 5.5 million foreign tourists visited India in 2010, an increase of 8.1 percent over the previous year. In 2009, 5.17 million foreign travellers visited India, while 5.28 million visited the country in 2008. (IANS)